When you serve your country, you do so with the expectation that your nation will take care of you if you get injured in the line of duty. Incredibly, the Veterans Benefits Administration gave 5.4 million veterans more than $112 billion in benefits in 2022.
However, it can be disheartening when the VA denies your disability claim. If this happens to you, do not lose hope. There are steps you can take to contest the decision and potentially turn the situation around. It is important to act quickly and understand the process, ensuring you meet all deadlines and provide the necessary information to strengthen your case.
Review the denial letter
Firstly, read through the VA’s decision letter carefully to understand why they denied your claim. They must provide clear reasons for the denial, which can include a lack of medical evidence or questions about the connection between your disability and your service. With this information in hand, you can prepare to take the appropriate steps to appeal the decision. Timeliness and attention to detail will be your allies in this process.
Gather additional evidence
Often, a denial may come down to insufficient evidence. Gather any additional medical records, doctors’ statements or personal accounts that can support your claim. More evidence can often bolster your appeal and demonstrate the validity of your disability.
File a Notice of Disagreement
If you disagree with the VA’s decision, file a Notice of Disagreement. You need to submit this form within one year from the date on the denial letter. The NOD starts the appeals process and is your formal way of telling the VA you contest their decision.
Seek a Decision Review Officer
Once the VA receives your NOD, you can request a Decision Review Officer to review your claim. This officer will take a fresh look at all the evidence and make a new decision. If new evidence has surfaced since the original claim, make sure the DRO has access to it.
Consider a higher-level review or board appeal
If the DRO does not rule in your favor, you may have the option for a higher-level review. This is where another reviewer examines your case without considering any new evidence. Alternatively, you can appeal to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals, where you can submit new evidence and have a hearing.
If the VA denies your disability claim, take action right away. Remember, you have the right to appeal, and taking these steps may help you receive the benefits you deserve.